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Dear Honourable Dr Aaron Motsoaledi,
We would like to approach you as the communities from Vhembe Communal Properties Association, under Musina municipality in Limpopo. Our communities are located right at the Zimbabwe boundary under Vhembe which represents 7 villages (Bennde Mutale, Tshikuyu, Masisi, Tshedzhelani, Gumbu, Sigonde and Madimbo).
The Home Affairs department has started building a border fence with Zimbabwe on the border close to our communities. It is called “The Magwa border fence project”.
We want Home Affairs to stop this border fence project and restart it only when majority of unskilled workers in the project are from our communities. At the moment, nobody from our communities has been employed in the project. Our communities are extremely poor, with high levels of youth unemployment. It is only fair that our community enjoy job benefits from the project.
It is clear from the process before the construction started that the contractor for the project did not want to employ people from our communities. This is evident from these three facts:
1. The contractor (its name is Magwa Construction) sent us an sms on 24 March 2020 at 14h32, which announced that those who need a job should submit their CV by 25 March 2020 at 11h00. They deliberately gave us a short notice so that none of us is able to submit the job application.
2. In the sms message advertising the job opportunities, they told us that we should submit our application using an email. They did this knowing so well that we in the rural areas do not have access to emails. In this way, none of us in our communities is then able to apply for a job.
3. We were also surprised that the contractor communicated the message via our councillor. We have traditional leaders in our rural communities. They were overlooked in the communication. They were not properly consulted. There is too much secrecy regarding the project. We believe that the project should have been announced to the communities in time so that we become aware of the scope of the project. (How long is the project going to take, the owner of the project, job opportunities and numbers of workers needed, 30% beneficiary to the local construction budget allocated). The information we have about the project is from the media.
From the media, we heard the minister saying that the project is budgeted +/- R40m. And that the project is going to take 3 weeks - we are shocked at that. Why the secrecy? Why the hurry doing the project during lockdown? Why not wait after the lockdown? Why are they doing the project in haste during the lockdown and as communities, the police block us and prevent us from going to see what is happening in the project? Is this border fence an essential service or there is something fishy or some corruption that they are trying to hide from us as communities along the border?
1. We would like to get clarity as to the progress made in the project from the Department of Home Affairs, from the Municipality, and the Department of Rural development.
2. We want the project to stop and start again only when it has ensured that majority of unskilled labour in the project are from our communities.
3. We should also be given enough time to submit our job applications.
4. They should allow us to submit our job applications by hand, and not by email, at a place which is convenient for us.
5. We support the government in this idea of a border fence. It is good for our security. But there should be a partnership between the government and our communities for the construction of the border fence. Our communities should be involved in job opportunities.
Bennde Mutale community.